Naming names

Naming product ranges, or even individual products, is more important than ever. While consumer electronics companies still think it makes sense to present the public with full engineering part numbers (despite nobody ever saying “Have you seen the new KDL46W4000U at Currys?”), they are at least investing in the ranges’ brand names nowadays. In the technical sector, however, some manufacturers still seem to think it’s almost an admission of weakness to give products a brand, or an image of any sort. And this despite the fact that both sales teams and customers have always had to make up a name otherwise, just to be able to discuss the product (“The pressure sensor you want is our AZ-Series; yes, I know there’s no reference to that in the catalogue, it’s just what we call the series whose part numbers start in AZ…”).

Successful web marketing, however, has made it almost compulsory to give products names. People search, and you need to give them something to search for. So how do you go about dreaming up names? There’s no doubt that if you can say a name out loud without embarrassment and write it down easily without worrying about the spelling, you’re off to a flying start. I’m such a nerd, I applied the same principles to naming my son: not only did I not want him ever to get laughed at for having a daft name, I also didn’t want him to have to spend his life telling people how to spell it (“that’s Steven with a ‘v’, by the way…”).

What you also need now is something which is rare, or even unique, on the web. Calling your next product the “Chelsea” range might sound nice, but you’re not exactly going to appear on the first page of Google. If you want a unique domain name for that product (and you do), then your options are going to be rather limited.

In the search for a name which is memorable, not used in more everyday market sectors, and easily-spelled, a good brainstorming session down the pub is one approach. Another is to play around with one of the online name generators which have sprung up. These are primarily designed to find available website domain names, so they have the benefit of giving you that information too. Try namecombo.com, for example.

I assume you’re not going to be spending thousands of pounds on getting some agency to do it. If you are, give me a few minutes, I’m off to start up a new consultancy…

Discussion

  1. Eoin Ó Riain

    Enjoyed this Chris…your comment about naming Children reminds me of my own parents who decided to give us one-syllable names so that we wouldn’t have nick-names. Mine was fine and then my brother is called Hugh but as soon as he went to school he was called Hughie after the third child they abandoned the idea and the rest have two syllable names none of which were lengthened or shortened to nicknames! You can’t win!

  2. David Gibson, SPLat Controls

    Chris, our name, SPLat, was dreamed up 13 years ago in a whimsical moment of utter madness. 10 minutes later we had an acronym (Simply Programmed Logic Automation Tool) and a logo.

    I have frequently wondered about the wisdom of that name, given the various connotations. However, I know SPLat Controls is never forgotten. Also, it is a great tool for getting past the dragons who guard the telephonic gates of many companies we may cold call (especially when I call companies in America with my Aussie-cum-British accent – “Oh gee, I just love your accent”.)

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